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They get the library, you get the bond

In preparation for the upcoming vote on the library bond issue and on the various candidates for city council and mayor, I ask my fellow citizens of Lake Oswego to consider the following.

1. An economic analysis of the WEB has concluded that the total cost savings to the city of Lake Oswego and its taxpayers of using the WEB for all essential city functions (including the library) versus placing those functions elsewhere would be an astounding $50 million (“Here’s how analysis was done” published in April 12, Review). The principles, figures, and most importantly, the conclusions of this analysis have never been challenged.

Now, we may disagree as to the proper future course of action for the city to take with respect to the WEB, but shouldn’t our current politicians have devoted at least a few minutes of discussion to this analysis? They did not— not one minute.

2. A comparative analysis of the proposed new downtown library concluded that if we examine libraries built in communities similar to our own in population, our city is proposing to build the most expensive library by far in project cost per capita ($46 million ÷ 37,000). This library as proposed will cost each and every person (man, woman, child) in Lake Oswego $1,243 (“Nothing but the very best library for us” published in the May 3, Review).

If the council follows through with this 60,000-square-foot North Anchor library project as budgeted (as it is now attempting to do with this bond issue), LO will have built one of the largest libraries and the most expensive libraries in the United States for a community of our size. The figures, the source of the figures and most importantly, the conclusions of this analysis have never been challenged.

3. In late spring, the council suddenly decided to overturn a carefully thought out list of the priorities of city capital projects and place funding for the most expensive library per capita in the United States ahead of funding for all other capital needs (“It’s only the taxpayers’ money after all” published in the June 7, Review).

How did this abrupt turnabout occur? Well, I believe the downtown library lobby (after reading the information in point No. 2 above) went to work to turn upside-down the capital project priorities of the city and insert the library ahead of these other projects.

So, where does all this leave us? With respect to the proposed bond issue for the downtown library, I ask everyone to consider this. Although the citizens of Lake Grove, Mountain Park, Palisades and other areas of Lake Oswego are being asked to pay for this most expensive library per capita in the U.S., the library really belongs to the downtown citizens.

Make no mistake, the single-minded focus of the downtown library lobby on only one capital project to the exclusion of all others indicates that they believe the library really belongs to them — not to you. Only the bond issue and its resulting financial obligations will belong to the rest of the city.

Dr. Hooper is a retired university professor with a Ph.D. in accounting from Tulane University. He has lived in downtown Lake Oswego for almost five years.